Sam Charles

Communications Manager

School of Engineering
Office: EME3251
Phone: 250.807.8136


Sam started at the Okanagan campus of the University of British in 2013 as a Senior Media Production Specialist with UBC Studios Okanagan.  After four years in that role, he transitioned into the Communications Manager role with the School of Engineering.

At the School of Engineering, he is responsible for developing strategic communication materials that highlight the innovative research and experiential learning on the Okanagan campus.  Sam is energized by telling the endlessly inspiring stories of the School’s researchers, students and staff.

With over twenty years of experience in communications, film, television and radio production, Sam is a seasoned professional communicator focused on generating dynamic and engaging content.

Sam has represented Canada three-times at Summer World University Games as Team Canada’s videographer documenting the Games for international audiences.  On Friday nights during the varsity season, he is the play-by-play voice (and technical advisor) for UBC Okanagan Heat basketball and volleyball webcasts on


Integrated strategic communications including social media; Develop, design, and maintain communications content; Media relations; Issues Management; Develop and prepare faculty awards nominations


With the heartbreaking news from Kamloops earlier this month about the discovery of 215 children found buried at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, the UBC Okanagan Engineering Indigenous Caucus and our allies the EDI advisors met this past week to discuss how we can help our community better understand and process this tragic news.

The work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has made the history of residential schools in Canada widely known. Before the TRC, few Canadians learned about how Indigenous children were taken from their families and communities, and forced by law to attend residential schools designed to strip them of their culture. This is not distant history, and there are many living victims in every indigenous community.  We first encourage you to learn about the Residential School System in Canada.

The stories of these children are difficult to hear, but they are important.  We encourage you to watch some of these stories to better gain insight into the history of Canada, and its relationship with Indigenous Peoples. This content is very powerful, and some people may require support after watching it. If so, here are some support resources through UBC:

June is Indigenous Peoples History Month, and is a time for us all (regardless of our background) to reflect on the history of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous Peoples.

Many resources are available about the history of residential schools in Canada, and the Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Report and Recommendations, including the following:

History needs to be remembered in order for us to take steps towards reconciliation, and move our country to match its aspirations. It is the same foundational principle for the discipline of engineering. As engineers we learn from our mistakes and grow. Together, we can work towards a lasting and impactful change.

During the month of June, we will continue to share topics and resources as we open a dialogue about reconciliation, and the role we all play in this process. We welcome your participation and input.

Thank you for taking the time to participate in this.

Kind regards,

Drs. Benoit and Foulds


Drs. Collier and Tobber (incoming engineering faculty for July 2021)

School of Engineering Indigenous Caucus


Kaila Spencer completed her Bachelors of Applied Science in Civil Engineering in December 2020.

What inspired you to go into engineering?

I always knew I loved science, but wanted something more applicable to everyday life that would impact the world we live in. I didn’t even know engineering was a degree choice until I went to an open house at UBC and discovered more about the discipline, and realized it was exactly what I had been looking for.

Why did you choose UBC Okanagan?

Having visited the Okanagan multiple times each year growing up, I knew how beautiful the region is, and the people are all so friendly. Academically, the smaller class sizes, access to professors, and the available opportunities that only come from a smaller campus including access to undergrad research, student clubs and organizations, and more all really appealed to me.

Favourite courses(s) during your time at UBC Okanagan?

The courses I loved the content the most were ENGR 331 Infrastructure Management, ENGR 433 Construction Engineering and Management, and ENGR 429 Rehabilitation of Concrete Structures.

Why was it important for you to be involved in extra-curricular activities?

Throughout my degree I have been involved in the Engineering Society, the Engineering and Technical Science Sorority Alpha Omega Epsilon, Women in Engineering, and was able to be a student ambassador with the school of Engineering.

My roles in the Engineering Society as VP Internal and VP External allowed me to both represent and advocate for engineering students to the faculty and the university, and represent our campus at national conferences and meetings regarding our programs and student experiences. These experiences allowed me to bring back concepts and ideas to better the student life of my peers, and implement changes for the future of engineering students across Canada.

My roles with A.O.E. and Women in Engineering helped me grow a network of amazing women who are all passionate about building a stronger future for women in the field. We all shared the same drive to collaborate with the School of Engineering on ways female students can be better supported while helping to educate our peers on ways they can help and support their friends as well.

My involvement in these groups made my experience as a student extremely memorable and allowed me to grow as an individual and as a future engineer.

What was your approach to handling the workload?

My trick for handling the engineering workload, especially combined with my extra-curricular activities, is to recognize your limits and ask for help. If you don’t understand a concept in class, ask a friend for help, and if you still don’t understand then reach out to the professors who all have amazing office hours and open-door policies. I also relied heavily on my friends and family for emotional support throughout my time in the program. There were times I thought I couldn’t make it in Engineering, especially in my first year, but a call to my parents or a talk with my friends was always got me back on my feet again.

Describe your research? Why is your research important?

During my second and third year, I worked in one of Dr. Shahria Alam’s labs developing high damping rubber bearing for large structures, that incorporates the use of superelastic shape memory alloy wires (wires that revert to their original shape after being manipulated) to reduce residual deformation of the damper after experiencing an earthquake. This type of research is vital in many parts of the world, even within Canada (such as the lower mainland), where there is a high risk of large earthquakes. This research, and other research like it, could one day reduce the large-scale damage and catastrophe resulting from  earthquakes.

What’s it like to be woman in engineering?

Being a woman in engineering is a bit daunting at times. I sometimes feel like I have to give more than my male peers to prove myself as an equal both in class and in my extra-curricular involvement; which seems to be a common thought amongst other women in the program as well. An interesting thing I noticed while at national conferences, is that even though the national average for female enrollment in engineering is quite low, the ratio was more even and sometimes even greater amongst those involved in extra-curriculars. This may illustrate how female students need to give a lot more not only because we feel we have to, but also because many of us are very passionate about making our programs more inclusive and inviting to students (identifying as female) all across Canada. The School of Engineering has been putting in a lot of effort towards encouraging young women to pursue engineering through hosting events like Go-Eng Girl for local middle and high schools; and hopefully with Engineers Canada 30% by 2030 initiative, we will see a future that includes more women pursuing engineering as a career.

What is your most memorable experience at UBC Okanagan?

The most memorable moment from my time as a student at UBC Okanagan was representing the School of Engineering at a conference in Santiago, Chile. The conference brought together members of Engineering Societies from around the world, and included multiple streams of students from leadership to research. We were able to meet students from the United States, Singapore, other schools in Canada, and Chile. We even met the Canadian Ambassador to Chile. This is the kind of opportunity I likely wouldn’t have had at a larger campus, and it really impacted my student experience by allowing me to form a stronger bond with the other UBC Okanagan students that attended. It also allowed me to learn more about some of the opportunities other students have on our campus and at schools around the world.

What does the future hold for you?

Currently I’m still searching for a job as an EIT, hopefully in Kelowna since I’ve come to love it here so much, and then I’ll see where life takes me!

Nearly 300 undergraduate and over 100 graduate engineering students will be conferred on June 2 during the University of British Columbia Okanagan’s second virtual convocation. The graduates will join over 1,850 graduates from faculties across the Okanagan campus. 288 undergraduate students in civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering will receive the Bachelor of Applied Science (BASc) degrees while 44 Masters of Applied Science (MASc), 24 Masters of Engineering (MEng), and 27 Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees will be conferred.

Convocation begins with a pre-show at 2:30pm PDT on June 2, 2021. Learn more at

Following the virtual ceremony, the School of Engineering will host a Celebration of Excellence highlighting students who have achieved some remarkable accomplishments during their time at UBC Okanagan. The Engineers and Geoscientists of BC’s certificates in engineering will be awarded in each engineering discipline to the graduating student who shows the greatest promise and has achieved high academic standing in their discipline, and one overall certificate is awarded to the student with the highest academic standing.

Download the 2021 UBC Okanagan convocation program.

The 2021 School of Engineering Celebration of Excellence premieres at 4:30pm PDT on June 2, 2021.

The Award recipients include: Amy Ly (EGBC Civil Certificate), Yulin Shen (EGBC Electrical Certificate), and Issac Alexander (EGBC Mechanical Certificate and the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering Gold Medal). The EGBC Overall Certificate and UBC Head of Class Gold Medal recipient is Rohan Ikebuchi.

The Doug and Ruth Pearce Engineering Capstone Prize, in memory of Dr. Spiro Yannacopoulos, will also be presented during the Celebration of Excellence. The award recognizes the team of fourth-year students in the School of Engineering who placed first in the Capstone Design Project course. This year’s winning project, an automated recycling counting hardware and software solution, was developed by Team 52 (Jack McClelland, Matthew Tucsok, Mihir Doshi, Todd Charter, and Zach Carels).

This year’s Dr. Spiro Yannacopoulos Memorial Award in Engineering Leadership will be presented to PhD student Sadaf Sadat Shabanian. This award is offered by family and friends of Dr. Spiro Yannacopoulos, Professor of Engineering, in memory of his outstanding professional and personal accomplishments. It is given to the student who has demonstrated excellence in both academics and leadership.

The School of Engineering’s most prestigious donor-funded student award, the Dr. Gordon Springate Sr. Award in Engineering will be presented to Venedict Tamondong. The award is annually bestowed on a student completing their Bachelor of Applied Science degree in the School of Engineering who has demonstrated a material contribution to their community outside of their program.

During his time at the School of Engineering, Venedict Tamondong has become an indispensable student advocate and leader, not just for UBC Okanagan Engineering students, but for engineering students across the country. He has served as a first-year representative, Vice-President External, and President of the UBC Okanagan Engineering Society. Tamondong also served as the Vice-President Finance and Administration and Activity Chair with the Western Engineering Students Society, and as Vice President Services with the Canadian Federation of Engineering Students. As a leader in these organizations, he has helped enrich the experiences of engineering students across the country while promoting the profession. He coordinated the following events: CFES Presidents’ Meeting, Conference on Diversity in Engineering, Canadian Engineering Leadership Conference, Conference on Sustainability in Engineering, Lean Six Sigma Certification, Canadian Engineering Competition, and the Summer Session Jumpstart Program (a professional development program for new students).

“On behalf of the staff and faculty at the School of Engineering, we wish all our graduates the best of luck in their future endeavours,” says Executive Associate Dean Rehan Sadiq. “Thank you for your contributions to our academic and research community.”

Jannik Eikenaar is a passionate teacher who is dedicated to supporting his students and making the School of Engineering’s learning spaces more inclusive, diverse, and engaging. He is a difference-maker not only in his own classrooms but also those of his colleagues.

The UBC Okanagan Teaching Excellence and Innovation Award recognizes teaching excellence and innovation at Okanagan campus.  Successful award winners are exemplary role models who have and will continue to have significant impact on the culture of teaching and learning on the Okanagan campus and beyond.

Dr. Eikenaar’s positive approach to teaching is both impressive and inspiring. As his recent appointment as one of the inaugural Marshall Bauder Professors in Experiential Learning and Leadership demonstrates, Dr. Eikenaar is successfully building on the experiences within his classrooms to lead in both our School and our Faculty.

He consistently demonstrates excellence by engaging his students through innovative, active learning strategies and activities while modeling respectful engagement and fostering an inclusive learning environment. Dr. Eikenaar also promotes the idea of psychological safety in teamwork, allowing students to feel they are able to contribute effectively in a group work environment. He serves as of the School’s two Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Advisors.

Dr. Eikenaar began teaching at the School of Engineering in 2014 as an Instructor. He regularly teaches required courses in Engineering Communication and Technical Communication at the Year One and Year Two levels, including for the Vantage College Applied Science cohort, and occasionally teaches a graduate-level elective.

His contributions to teaching on campus were judged as outstanding in a field of exceptional nominees. In recognition of receiving this award, Dr. Eikenaar will be recognized at the Teaching Awards Ceremony during UBC’s Celebrate Learning Week which takes place online between May 17th and May 23rd.

At the event other School of Engineering instructors and teaching assistants will be recognized. Tina Olfatbakhsh, Reza Sourki, & Sandun Tharaka Wanniarachchi will be award Provost Teaching Assistant & Tutors Excellence Awards. Mehran Shirazi, Peyman Yousefi and Yang Cao will be recognized for championing accessibility & wellbeing in the classroom.



Professor Rehan Sadiq, Executive Associate Dean of the School of Engineering, has been named a University of British Columbia University Scholar (DUS). The  prestigious program recognizes members of UBC Faculty who have distinguished themselves as exceptional scholars.

The award is conferred by the President on the recommendation of an adjudication panel based on several criteria including: nominee’s accomplishments have had a significant impact in the field, received international recognition as leaders in the field, a superior record in attracting and supervising students and trainees, a similar level of scholarly excellence demonstrated by Canada Research Chairs and similar distinguished faculty.

Dr. Sadiq was recognized for his exceptional administrative, teaching, and research leadership. An internationally recognized authority on asset management and reliability of water supply systems, and a leading expert in environmental risk analysis and lifecycle assessment of built environments, Dr. Sadiq ranks in the top 2% of cited scientists worldwide in the category of environmental science.

His extraordinarily high productivity has resulted in over 550 peer-reviewed articles including approximately 350 journal papers in leading international journals in his field. His work has been cited nearly 13,000 times according to Google Scholar with h-index of 60 (among the top 150 most-cited civil engineering researchers) and i-10 index of 225.

Dr. Sadiq has supervised and graduated more than 80 PhD, MASc and MEng students, and continues to supervise and co-supervise students at UBC and at various universities (including 57 graduate students, 7 non-research graduate students, 37 Post-Doctoral and Visiting Research Fellows (PDF) at UBC, 13 graduate students/PDF supervised/co-supervised at other institutions), 7 non-UBC graduate students and 20 undergraduate students through special projects.

DUS funding is for a 5-year term, with potential for renewal once.  The DUS title continues to be held by the Distinguished University Scholar as long as she or he is a tenured member of faculty at the University.  For grant-tenured faculty members, the DUS title would be carried for the duration of their position at UBC.

Up to 10 new Distinguished University Scholars are conferred in each adjudication round every 2 years. The 2021 DUS recipients were announced on April 27, 2021.

Third-year mechanical engineering student, Madisyn Szypula, and first-year engineering student, Kayley Beckie, were both recognized by the Canadian Engineering Memorial Foundation (CEMF) with 2021 awards.

Szypula, who is an active undergraduate researcher in Dr. Lukas Bichler’s lab, was awarded the 2021 Dillion Consulting Award. An accomplished student and active leader in her community, Szypula’s volunteer activities include participating in UBC Okanagan’s B.A.R.K (dog therapy program) and promoting STEM initiatives to elementary school aged students. The latter role builds upon a program she created, organized and ran during her last year of high school. Szypula created “The Little Scientist Elementary Science Club” that provided hands-on and project-based programs geared to young aspiring scientists. Through that experience, she has become an active member of UBC’s Geering Up Engineering Outreach program.

Kailey Beckie was recognized with the 2021 CEMF Ambassador British Columbia Award. She joined the School of Engineering this past September. A Schulich Leadership Scholar, she has demonstrated her continued enthusiasm for learning and leading. She is active in sports, 4-H, woodworking, welding, and automotive maintenance activities.

As part of the CEMF Awards, both award recipients will act as Ambassadors for the engineering profession and serve as role models for other young women. They will be featured in the annual CEMF brochure, and be eligible for mentorship and employment opportunities with award sponsors.

Learn more about the 2021 CEMF Award Winners at


Three teams have been selected to receive funding to launch student-led start-ups to solve real-world problems as part of the School of Engineering’s Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Impact Fund.

“This is the first year we’ve run this initiative, and the response was amazing,” says Associate Professor Kenneth Chau, who oversaw the adjudication process. “The concepts and proposals from all the submission made the decision process really challenging.”

The winning teams proposed diverse projects that aim to improve water quality in Indigenous communities, increase access to student wellness resources, and combat auto theft.

“Our students continue to demonstrate a passion for making the world a better place,” explains Professor of Teaching Ray Taheri. “I see it in all my design courses, but to see it in these student-led proposals was truly inspiring.”

A team of first-year engineering students including Sydney Strocen, Mikhail Ignatyev, Alex Wiggins, Sam Keeble, and Emilia Dyck are proposed a water filtration system that removes dirt, biomaterials, and foreign objects from the water supply while the cistern is being refilled and idle. The system is intended for Indigenous communities, and was originally developed as a project APSC 169 Fundamentals of Sustainable Engineering Design. The team is planning on using the IEI resources to prototype and undergo further testing.

The Atlas App Team consisting of third-year electrical engineering student Erika Pineo along with her teammates Nicole Keeler (third-year, electrical) Dorna Hatami (third-year electrical), Weston Vanderveen (third-year, civil), and Alex White (third-year physics) are developing an app that enables easier access to student resources while building a more connected campus community. The app has a particular focus on student wellness, but will also include a variety of links for academic, social, and general campus information. The funding will be used to develop the concept and enable testing at campuses across Canada.

Fourth-year electrical engineering student Connor Scott along with his Team Cloudtrac teammates Enrique Caldron (third-year, electrical), and David Rojas (alumni, UBC Okanagan Management) are designing a theft prevention GPS tracker intended for motorcycles, ATVs, boats, classic cars, and trailers. The team has already designed and assembled some prototypes, and intends to use the IEI Funding to start beta-testing and launching a kickstarter campaign.

The winning teams were selected by an adjudication committee that included Drs. Kenneth Chau, Ray Taheri, Lukas Bichler, Vicki Komisar, and Alon Eisenstein. The teams all receive $10,000 in start-up capital along with mentorship from an assigned faculty members, and an experienced entrepreneur.

A fourth team will receive $5,000 to undertake the development of a Mobile Filtration Backpack. The primarily first-year team including Yosamin Esanullah (first-year engineering), Elena Wood (second-year, electrical), Mana Tokuni (first-year engineering), Yamen Shaheb (first-year engineering), and Sarah Adelaja (first-year engineering) is seeking to build upon its APSC 169 SIP (Safety in Purification) project. Using carbon and membrane micron filters, the team has designed a portable filtration system that fits in a backpack, and is designed to last up to 128 weeks. It is a solution ideally built for remote communities to address drinking water contamination.

According to Assistant Professor of Teaching Alon Eisenstein, great ideas such as these proposals still need a boost. “The common theme for all of these winning entries is their strong connection to the people and communities whose problem they are trying to solve. But money alone won’t make the concept a reality, these teams have lots more to learn and evolve their ideas. That’s why, in addition to the IEI Funding, access to resources and mentorship is so important.”

The School’s Executive Associate Dean, Rehan Sadiq couldn’t agree more. “We are already anxiously awaiting the results of what these teams will accomplish over the summer. I am confident that these student-led social-innovation initiatives will make a genuine impact on our community.”

A key component of the IEI Funding is developing an ecosystem where students can immerse themselves in work-integrate learning. The winning teams will work on their projects over the summer semester, with a progress report to be delivered in the Fall.

For more information about the Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Impact Fund visit

Nathan Van Zyderveld is in his final year of the Mechanical Engineering program.

What drew you to engineering?

I have always enjoyed finding solutions to novel problems, which is what an engineer does on a daily basis.  My initial career plan was to be an electrician, but once I reached my third year in the trade, I began to realize that I wanted to learn more than just the application of what I was working on; I wanted to learn how and why it worked. My family encouraged me to pursue engineering, so after upgrading my math and science prerequisites, I applied to UBC Okanagan.

Was there a moment when it became clear that engineering was right for you?

Although there was never a distinct moment that it became clear that engineering was right for me, it fits well with my personality and aptitude. During my years in school, I have discovered what it means to be an engineer, and throughout that process I have come to realize that engineering is right for me.

Who have been your mentors during your engineering journey? And why?

During my years in engineering school, my mentors have included professors, peers, and alumni. The professors who stood out the most to me have been those who clearly love teaching and want students to learn what they know so that we can have technical conversations together, with clarity and comprehension. I have encountered these intentional professors throughout my studies, and I have always excelled in their classes above all others, as they captivate their students’ attention and are so willing to help broaden their knowledge of a subject. My peers and alumni have helped me while we meet similar challenges together.  Collaborating on projects while sharing a mutual experience of stress and pressure is what got me through engineering. If it was not for the peers I met through UBCO Motorsports and in team project assignments, I might not have made it through engineering school. They inspired me to work harder, and we were always together as a mutual consortium of knowledge. If there was something any one of us did not understand, we would work together as a team to solve the problem.  My peers have been an integral part of my learning at UBC Okanagan.

We often hear that studying engineering is grueling, what has been your experience?

Absolutely! Engineering is a grueling program. In my first semester, I failed three of the six required courses and was placed on academic probation. After taking a semester off to determine if engineering was really the right choice for me, I requested permission to return to the program. I went back with a newfound understanding of the difficulties involved in the engineering program. I adjusted my timetable to a reduced load and took an additional five years to complete my degree. I failed a few more courses along the way but continued to learn from my mistakes and persevered to finish my studies.

How do you approach your studies?

I approach my studies on a task list basis. I move all my assignments into a calendar and plan what needs to be done, and at which point in time. This allows me to integrate my studies into my life and keeps me from forgetting important tasks and deadlines. For the most part, if time allows, I try and get the lighter assignments done as early as possible because by the end of each week there are often meetings for projects as well as unexpected tasks needing to be done ASAP. This strategy has helped me to complete my assignments on time and has allowed me to carve out the necessary hours for studying when midterms or finals are approaching.

I was once told that the best strategy was to begin preparing two weeks in advance of an exam. Although I am sure this is a good strategy, I have never been able to do this with my schedule. For the most part, because of the time it takes to keep up with class assignments, I begin my studying three to five days before the exam. This strategy, when I can implement it, has worked out well.

Why do you participate in extra-curriculars?

Engineering school and the UBCO Motorsports team have given me the ability and the knowledge to turn the ideas in my head into a reality. I began participating in the UBCO Motorsports Formula SAE team because I love vehicles. I have always been a “car guy”, and the UBCO Motorsports club was a chance to gain an in-depth understanding about the internal workings of vehicles and their sub-systems. For me, joining UBCO Motorsports was never about improving my resume, but rather about learning the systems and internal workings of how cars are designed and manufactured.

Although classes gave me the basic scientific principles of how things work, I have always been a hands-on learner.  Being on the team has allowed me to get that real life experience. From the Formula SAE motto, Design, Build, Race, that is exactly what I experienced.  We learn the critical components about designing for manufacture and assembly because we are the manufacturer and the assembly technician. Team members learn what makes a good design from this standpoint, and continually improve upon previous designs to create a better overall system.

After my first year on the team, I joined the executive as the powertrain lead.  This is where I started to realize that not only did I enjoy the car design and build, but I also enjoy some of the management aspects of Motorsports.  For my final two years on the Motorsports team, I served as the team captain.  These two years have shaped my life in ways I could not have planned or imagined. This role has also given me teamworking skills and broadened my understanding of how to look at things from other people’s points of view and to learn to collaborate in ways that best serve our team.

Why should a prospective student consider engineering?

Students should consider engineering as their path of study if they want to learn on a deep level how the world works. Throughout my time as an engineering student, I have learned how to model everyday life through technology. It is the perfect path for those who are driven to make the world a better place. The thing I probably learned the most throughout my career as a student is how ingrained in everyday life engineering is. I knew about engineering projects that most of us are familiar with like how roads, vehicles, and other everyday things are made, but was unfamiliar with other, less common projects that require engineering. Biomedical applications are one aspect I was not previously aware of. Since engineering is, by definition, an applied science degree, it should not have surprised me that applied biology is involved, but everything from prosthetic legs to mechanical replacement heart valves involve an engineer somewhere along the line.

What are your future aspirations?

I am hoping that at some point in my engineering career I will have my own engineering firm or be the CTO (chief technical officer) of an existing firm.  I plan to continue learning after graduation so that I can increase my knowledge on the things that interest me.

Are there any other anecdotes you wish to share about yourself or your experiences at SOE?

My time at the school of engineering has had ups and downs, as I assume is true of all students’ journeys. Some of the most influential of these have been my experiences with UBCO Motorsports. In 2018 our team drove to Lincoln Nebraska for a competition. As time went on through the competition we bonded and although the outcome of that competition was not as we had hoped (damaged an engine irreparably and did not have a spare) we learned far more through that week than multiple months of schooling and classwork.

Other notable times with the SOE are those with my professors. Professor Sediako joined the school in my second of six years of engineering schooling. He was assigned the 169 course (Fundamentals of Sustainable Engineering) and brought his previous work experience with him. His experience just so happened to be in one of my main interests: vehicle design. In class he would use examples from his previous experiences, and I was always ready to add my take on the topic. We kept in touch throughout my school years, and I had a few more classes with him. He became a bit of a mentor, and I am forever grateful for the input and knowledge that he passed along to me on how I should be focusing my studies and the details of the actual engineering profession.

The School of Engineering announced the recipients of its 2019-20 Faculty and Staff Awards of Excellence this afternoon. The awards, delayed as a result of the pandemic, were presented virtually at an all-School virtual meeting. In announcing the awards, Executive Associate Dean Rehan Sadiq emphasized how inspired he has been over the past year by the efforts and determination of School of Engineering students, staff, faculty, and partners. “Every member of our community has made an important contribution that epitomizes the resourcefulness and focus of our School.”

The awards are presented annually to both faculty and staff in a variety of categories. Past recipients who are nominated for the same award are recognized through honorary mentions.


Kenneth Chau continues to create an entrepreneurship culture and platform in the School at the undergraduate level. Dr. Chau is uncovering opportunities and creating connections between the School of Engineering and Entrepreneurship@UBCO.

Sabine Weyand led the creation of the biomedical option, and currently serves as the option Advisor. Dr. Weyand is also playing an instrumental role in disseminating the equity, diversity, and inclusion culture at the School of Engineering.

Honourable mentions: Ian Foulds and Jannik Eikenaar


Dean Richert has received one of the best teaching evaluations from students with very positive comments. His teaching methods were highly admired by students and peers.

Mehran Shirazi has received exceptional teaching evaluations. His dedication for teaching and student support are highly appreciated by students and colleagues.

Honourable mentions:Lukas Bichler, Yang Cao, and Jonathan Holzman

faculty emerging academic

Sepideh Pakpour is a highly-accomplished researcher with a track record of academic excellence. She leads the Pakpour Lab where her research translates basic microbiome discoveries into applications ranging from bioengineering and biomaterials to medicine.

Mohammad Zarifi is a highly-accomplished researcher with a track record of academic excellence. His research record includes $1.3M in research funding and 12 journal papers. He leads the Okanagan Microelectronics and Gigahertz Applications (OMEGA) Lab.

Honourable mentions: Alexander Uhl

faculty educational leadership excellence

Yang Cao has made significant contributions to educational leadership assisting the development of new pedagogical advances and new programs at the School. He has also played a major role in the COVID-19 Response to support both instructors and students in the transition to online teaching.

Jannik Eikenaar’s leadership in EDI and Indigenizing the engineering curriculum helped the School achieve new levels of engineering education. He also holds Bauder Professorship in Experiential Learning & Leadership.

faculty research excellence

Kevin Golovin demonstrated excellent research output as his research record includes $1.4M in research funding, 2 journals papers and 2 conference papers.

Mohammad Arjmand demonstrated excellent research output as his research record includes $1.1M in research funding and 16 journal papers. Dr. Arjmand  holds a Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Advanced Materials and Polymer Engineering.

Honourable mentions: Lukas Bichler and Zheng Liu

staff service excellence

Kayla Soriano provides exceptional service to support our undergraduate programs, faculty, students, and staff.  She has taken a lead role in our undergraduate scheduling and timetabling project.  This requires ongoing consultation, data collection, and attention to detail.

Chris Seib has taken a lead role in managing the clean room, developing lab safety protocols and is active in the undergrad mechanical labs.

Sam Charles has provided leadership in augmenting media exposure for the School of Engineering and its faculty, preparing faculty and staff nominations, developing strategic communications and reports, and enhancing the School’s web presence.

The School of Engineering will announce the recipients of its 2020-21 awards in June.

Manufacturing Engineering students are taking advantage of learning high-level production management skills in MANF 270. MANF270, Production Management course, provides students with hands-on opportunities to put lean manufacturing concepts related to increasing productivity into action.

“Obviously, this term has been a bit different as a result of the pandemic,” explains MANF 270 Lecturer Hassan Iqbal, “but it has enabled students to truly put these concepts into practice in their homes and at their workplaces.”

The focus of the course is learning, understanding, and implementing the Lean Manufacturing “Toyota Production System (TPS).” Dating back to the 1930s, TPS champions the concept of lean manufacturing where waste within a system is reduced to allow for optimal productivity.

Some students were able to take the concepts into real-world situations. Second-year Manufacturing student, Spencer Faubert, used the principles at his family’s vanilla extract company. “Already the people at work have told me what a great difference these small improvements have made to the day-to-day operations.”

“This project was a great chance to actually apply some of the concepts we were learning while studying from home,” says  Aidan Mundle, a second year Manufacturing Engineering student. “We could physically implement it, we could see the results, and we can continue to work on it throughout the year. It was a personalized, beneficial, and useful project that I enjoyed.”

Using his home workshop as a lab, Mundle strategically organized tools and equipment to make everything more accessible and easier to find by implementing the 5-S lean tool.

Vania Amadi, a second-year Manufacturing student, had a similar experience undertaking her course project. “These concepts are both useful and applicable that everyone should learn in order to increase efficiency all the way round.”

According to Iqbal, the students are all demonstrating a keen enthusiasm towards streamlining how they approach a task. “Students have been able to effectively identify the process wastes, and then adapt best practices to minimize/eliminate them. In fact during the pandemic, many of us have been taking a similar assessment of our homes and lives, and taking similar steps without realizing the connection to lean manufacturing.”

Students in MANF 270 not only learned about the building blocks of lean manufacturing but also implemented the Kaizen and 5S system, a visual management process intended to make workplaces more organized and efficient.

Manufacturing Engineering at UBC Okanagan’s School of Engineering encourages students to investigate the evolving world of manufacturing including additive manufacturing, advanced materials, adaptive robotics, artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, digitalization, factory planning, production management, modern manufacturing practices and Industry 4.0. For more information visit: